Comfort from Food

Comfort food. Most people can relate to that phrase. Your version of comfort food might be different from another person’s, but the general definition remains the same: It tastes really good and I enjoy eating it. Lots of it!

It’s what I want to eat when I’m feeling stressed, depressed or bored. Why? It makes me feel better. It ‘comforts’ me. Kind of a strange thing, when you think about it.

Since I consumed quite a bit of comfort food in the last couple of days, I decided I’d look into this phenomena and see what it is that drives me to fill my belly, when my spirit is feeling empty.

“Food is also the friend who never disappoints or ditches us” says Anneli Rufus in her article “Explaining the Psychology of Comfort Food.”  She also tells us, ” When you begin to eat, your eyes, hands and mouth start the chain of command. Then the brain kicks in. Sugar and starch spur serotonin, a neurotransmitter known to increase a sense of well-being.”

Sugar and starch. Yep. That pretty much defines it for me. Pasta, baked good, desserts, cereal. It all makes me feel ‘better.’

I really love fresh fruit, but if I’m feeling a bit blah or down for any reason, ice cream, a caramel roll, even mac n’ cheese will be what I’m drawn to. Fruit? Sure! If it’s baked in a pie or served over ice cream.

Ms. Rufus’ article also made a fascinating statement: “Security, reward, and connectedness: Each of these three feelings activates a different portion of the brain, and each of these is more or less crucial to each of us,”

That is amazingly true, isn’t it? We want to feel safe: Security. We want to feel valued: Reward. And, we want to feel part of a community or relationship: Connectedness.

So, I guess I use food as a narcotic at times. I use starch and sugar to give me this little ‘high’ when I’m not ‘feeling’ as relaxed and secure and valued as I would like to be.

Weird to think of it that way, but maybe that’s the understanding I need to come to in order to change that about myself.

For all of those out there who have already processed this comfort food thing already – sorry. It was something I probably knew in the recesses of my brain, but just never worked it all out in a conscious way before, at least not in relation to myself.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (or on food, or alcohol, or drugs, or whatever it is that you lean on instead of Him.)”

 Thanks for reading. Hope it didn’t ramble too much. Guess when I being drawn to over indulge in my comfort foods I need to stop and consider what the need is that I’m trying to fill, right?

1 Comment Comfort from Food

  1. Mary Aalgaard

    I also wrote about the need for comfort food today. Not the whole post, but part of it. My son got braces on, so I fed him easy-eating comfort food, like wild rice soup and meatballs & mashed potatoes. It’s okay to reach for what’s comforting once in a while. And, yes, I agree. Sometimes we’re trying to fill a need or solve an issue with food and what we really need is quiet and/or a good walkin’ talkin’ conversation.


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